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M/Pieces - Ligs Good Soft Rubber Alto Jazz Mouthpiece

Connor Lee

New Member
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12
Hello Readers,
I am the first saxophone in my school's orchestra and we're looking to start a jazz band this year. The problem is, I use a B5 Rico Royal mouthpiece, which plays very mellow and soft. I use a 1 1/2 reed with it, as the combination is, well, it couldn't be any more perfect/versatile! (For orchestral parts that generally mimic the bassoon or another instrument we're missing, that is.) Can anyone recommend me a great jazz mouthpiece, as well as a reed that plays well with it? I've been playing for half of my life, so skill isn't something to worry about. Just want something you can really bring out the jazz from. Price isn't much of an issue, though I'd rather not go over 300 dollars.
Thank you all,
-Connor Lee
 

thesaxman71

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1,687
the JodyJazz and R.P.C. HR are supposed to be good, never tried them but heard good reports. Also a Meyer 6 or 7 with a 2.5 reed will do great job too, good all round mouthpiece for jazz and non jazz setting.
I know you are looking for HR but also look at metal pieces as they are great too in a jazz setting. maybe look at trying a JodyJazz, a Lawton 6 or 7, lebayle studio 8 (brighter piece), with 2.5 reed, great projection on both, will cut through for your jazz playing.
if you are using 1.5 reeds then i would strongly suggest moving up to 2.5 reeds in a jazz situation as the 1.5 will probably be too soft and sound lost and weak.

be aware you will probably get mixed responses and views as we all have different tastes in mouthpieces, ans i am just suggesting some pieces that have worked great for me in the past.
happy hunting.
 
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TomMapfumo

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Charlie Parker used a Runyon 22, made by his first teacher Santy Runyon. Jazz mouthpiece can often mean Meyer type mouthpieces. The originals are not well made but there are positive alternatives. These would include the Phil-Tone Aurora and Solstice, the Mouthpiece Cafe NYC Bros, the Drake NY Jazz. My favourite is the Phil-Tone Aurora, but a little research should help you find a good one in the US - such as Sax-ccessories.

A cheaper recommendation would be the Vandoren V16 HR!
 
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altissimo

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the Jody Jazz HR is an excellent mouthpiece, you could also try the Lebayle Jazz Ebonite - I suspect the Lebayle Studio might be too bright for you, unless you're after a Candy Dulfer type sound...
I'm not familiar with the Rico B5, but I don't see why you couldn't play jazz on it. It's not about your equipment, it's about how you use it
 

TomMapfumo

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The Lebayle Jazz cost $189, Jody Jazz HR* costs $159, Ralph Morgan Vintage is $120 Vandoren V16 costs $107. Of those the Morgan is probably my favourite Jazz piece!
 

TomMapfumo

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Great Jazz reeds would include Marca Jazz (my favourite), Rigotti Gold, Francois Louis Excellence, Alexander DC's, Rico Jazz Selects and possibly Vandoren ZZ, if by Jazz reed you mean something a little brighter and able to play faster - generally reeds which have been filed.
 

Morgan Fry

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Charlie Parker used a Runyon 22, made by his first teacher Santy Runyon.

Sorry to hijack this thread too much but this story bugs me every time I hear it. Bird may have gone to Runyon for a lesson or a few while he was staying in Chicago (maybe 1940 or 41), but he had already been working full time as a musician for several years at that point. The implication that Santy had a significant influence is inaccurate, and subtly racist (substituting one magical white man for an entire musical tradition) or at least pretty disrespectful of the Kansas City scene Bird developed in. (not blaming you, Tom, it's just a story you heard).


Anyway, OP, you don't need to spend $300 right now. Get a Meyer 5 or 6. LaVoz medium reeds. There isn't any thing you need to do at this point in your growth as a player you can't do on that setup.
 

kernewegor

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I'd suggest that you look at other Rico mps online and compare tip openings and facings with what you have - as well as trying different reeds, of course...

Then, if you want to try different chamber sizes/tip openings/facings you can - with Rico Graftonite - for peanuts.

Then - if you find what suits you and gives you a sound close to what you want - you could lash out serious money on a more expensive mp with similar characteristics ....if you want to.

Most of it is you, though.

If you have only really being playing one type of music, it could just be that you need to develop a different sound for a different type of music... and the same mp (maybe with a different reed?) could do both...

There are a lot of variables. There is you - and your sax. Different person and a different sax could well mean a different mp. It is easy to spend a raft of money searching for the 'perfect'.... this, that, or the other...
 

altissimo

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regarding the Runyon 22 - Charlie Parker didn't play a 22 as such, but it's based on the early mouthpieces that Santy Runyon made for people like Charlie Parker and is a modern, mass produced plastic version of those pieces. They're good mouthpieces - I used to have one and gigged and recorded with it. Of course you won't sound like Parker - he used all manner of different saxes and mouthpieces and still sounded like himself
 

TomMapfumo

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So just to be clear - Charlie Parker may have played a mouthpiece that may have been made by someone called Santy Runyon which may have borne some similarity to a mouthpiece that is currently made by Runyon products, called a Runyon 22 which is made out of plastic and is rather cheaper ($39) than a Meyer mouthpiece ($97.50) which several mouthpiece makers make improved versions of
as it isn't as well made as it was in the past.

Apparently the Runyon website describe Charlie Parker as playing a "Prototype" of the Runyon 22.
 
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TomMapfumo

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I'd suggest that you look at other Rico mps online and compare tip openings and facings with what you have - as well as trying different reeds, of course...

Then, if you want to try different chamber sizes/tip openings/facings you can - with Rico Graftonite - for peanuts.

Then - if you find what suits you and gives you a sound close to what you want - you could lash out serious money on a more expensive mp with similar characteristics ....if you want to.

Most of it is you, though.

If you have only really being playing one type of music, it could just be that you need to develop a different sound for a different type of music... and the same mp (maybe with a different reed?) could do both...

There are a lot of variables. There is you - and your sax. Different person and a different sax could well mean a different mp. It is easy to spend a raft of money searching for the 'perfect'.... this, that, or the other...


I just wouldn't describe the Rico Graftonite as "....a great jazz mouthpiece...." which the OP was looking for. I have played one on soprano alto and tenor and would not describe it as have a jazz like flavour. Sure, it is possible for anyone to get a fairly good sound out of one, but do not see it as aiding that process, and preferred a Clarke Fobes debut or Runyon 22 to a Graftonite.
 

altissimo

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without wanting to turn this into a Charlie Parker thread, the Parker/Runyon story goes something like this -

Clinton "Santy" Runyon became interested in mouthpiece design at an early age and tried to apply the Bernoulli effect to baffle design, developing a rollover type baffle. He started making mouthpieces sometime in the early 40's as well as teaching saxophone at 192 North Clark St in Chicago.
In the mid 40's, before the end of the war, Charlie Parker heard Johnny Bothwell, one of Runyon's students playing with Stan Kenton and was impressed by his tone, so he went to Runyon for a few lessons and bought one of his mouthpieces, which he used for a few years - photographic evidence shows him using one during his time on the West Coast.
Parker either lost the mouthpiece or left it in the sax case when he pawned his instrument for drug money - or maybe it got lost when he got dragged off to Camarillo... Parker went on to use Brilhart, Otto Link and Berg Larsen mouthpieces on a variety of saxes from Conn, Selmer, Buescher, King and Martin

Santy Runyon went on to start full time production of mouthpieces in the post war period - there are adverts for his mouthpieces dated December 1946, featuring Johnny Bothwell and Manny Thaler endorsing alto and baritone mouthpieces and one from the late 40's showing Herbie Fields and Lee Konitz as proud owners. None of the mouthpieces pictured in these ads looks like the modern version of the 22. We can presume that the mouthpieces were hand made during the war years and only mass produced after the war was over, when machines and materials were no longer needed for the war effort.
At what point the modern Runyon 22 went into production is unclear, but it is based on the original design that Santy Runyon made for his students and local musicians in Chicago.

This is about as much as I can glean from google. The "Parker played a Runyon 22" notion seems to have originated on Sax On The Web, that notorious forum of strong opinions and heated debates...

Anyway, sorry for the digression, carry on as you were...
 
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aldevis

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The "Parker played a Runyon 22" notion seems to have originated on Sax On The Web, that notorious forum of strong opinions and heated debates...

Are you implying that something on SOTW could not be an absolute truth?
 

TomMapfumo

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Are you implying that something on SOTW could not be an absolute truth?

It is stated on the Runyon website, as mentioned above - that he played a prototype of the Runyon 22. The trustworthyness of SOTW may be a separate matter.

Here: http://www.saxgourmet.com/runyon/accessory.pdf at the top of page 8, if you are interested.
 
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kevgermany

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You won't do much better than Morgan's recommendation, for the money. The Morgan's are good pieces and I searched a while before settling on one for alto. The Meyer didn't suit me, but it does suit many people - and there are many clones/improved versions around.

On the graftonite, it'll do what you want, but a rico royal 1.5 on it is a little soft.
 

altissimo

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It is stated on the Runyon website, as mentioned above - that he played a prototype of the Runyon 22. The trustworthyness of SOTW may be a separate matter.

Here: http://www.saxgourmet.com/runyon/accessory.pdf at the top of page 8, if you are interested.

thanks for that link, as you can see from the URL it's an old Runyon pdf on the Saxgourmet website, Runyon have updated their website and don't have this info anymore. It would seem that the statement "Charlie Parker for a time played a prototype of our Model 22" has been conflated into "Charlie Parker played a Runyon 22" on SOTW.
I can't find out whether the RS Berkeley Charlie Parker Legends series mouthpiece is copied from a Brilhart or a Runyon, it was copied from a white mouthpiece found in the case of a King Super 20 belonging to Kim Parker, so presumably it dates from the 50's when Bird was playing a King sax.

but digression aside, to return to the original question....
If you're gonna play jazz you've got to develop your embouchure and have enough to say about life that you can improvise at length without just running through a load of pre learned licks and phrases. Knowing all the standards will also help, since they're the basic tunes that people play at jam sessions, and going out and jamming with everyone you can find is part of the process.

No mouthpiece will give you an instant jazz sound, but the one's recommended above will at least play well, so you won't be struggling against a substandard mouthpiece. If I had to play jazz tomorrow, I'd get out my Jody Jazz HR and be confident that it'd do the job. The Phil-Tone mouthpieces have a great reputation and would be top of my shopping list if I didn't already have the Jody. There are a lot of 'improved Meyer' type alto mouthpieces around, it's become the orthodoxy that you should play a Meyer on alto, but the modern Meyers have a reputation for poor quality control, so a number of mouthpiece makers have started doing their own improved versions of these pieces.

Get a good mouthpiece and learn how to use it. Musical instrument forums are full of people who're constantly changing their equipment and one wonders how much actual music they play. I've been as guilty of that as anyone and have a few boxes of mouthpieces to prove it. It's fun trying different mouthpieces and saxes etc, but it's also a distraction from the real task of being a musician and creating music. Go out and try different mouthpieces until you find the one you like the most and then get on with playing in a band. There's nothing better than playing a solo with a good rhythm section behind you. Even if you can't think of anything to play and are struggling, it's still a learning experience and sometimes what comes out of your horn in such testing circumstances is better than if you're not struggling - the extra effort brings out something more...

Using a stronger reed than a 1 1/2 might be a good idea, there are a few pro players who use soft reeds, often because they're playing mouthpieces with very wide tip openings, but in general, it'll help if you work your way up to a 2, 2 1/2 or 3.
While everyone will recommend their own favourite make of reed, I've tried to avoid getting hung up on any particular make because when you're out on the road you can sometimes find that you can't get hold of your favourite and have to make do with whatever you can get at the time. I like Vandoren Javas for their flexibility, other people don't like them at all...
Bear in mind that reed strengths vary from different manufacturers and Vandorens are about a quarter strength harder than Ricos and there's always some variation - no two reeds are quite the same
there's a comparison chart here which shows the differences in reed strengths from different companies - http://www.sax.co.uk/rcc.htm
 
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